Arago: Catherine L. Manning

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Catherine L. Manning

Catherine Lemmon Manning (1881-1957), the first woman outside the sciences to achieve the title “Assistant Curator” at the Smithsonian, tended the national stamp collection for nearly thirty years (1922-1951). During her tenure, she organized the collection, processed thousands of specimens received from the Universal Postal Union and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, published articles, exhibited, and participated widely in the philatelic community. Throughout her life, she received many honors, including being the first woman elected to office in the American Philatelic Society (vice president, 1935-1937). She was a charter member of the American Philatelic Congress and in 1936 received its award for service to philately. In 1938, Manning served on the committee that selected Elaine Rawlinson’s design for the 1938 Presidential definitive series. She was invited to gatherings at the White House numerous times by President Roosevelt, a fellow philatelist. She was a charter member of the board of directors of the privately-run National Philatelic Museum in Philadelphia and received its 1949 silver trophy for achievement in philately. The American Philatelic Society inducted her into its Hall of Fame in 1990.

Ruby Robertson, Catherine Manning’s daughter-in-law, donated Manning’s philatelic estate to the National Postal Museum. It includes publications, manuscripts, stamps, and covers. Manning’s collecting and research interests included sources for stamps, first day covers, and women on stamps.


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